Many had high hopes for Mallex Smith, with the trade to Seattle and speed down around the game. Unfortunately he had gotten off to a miserable start, hitting .165 with 1 HR and 8 SB over 110 PA, and now finds himself sent to Triple-A to try and figure out the issues.
Obviously a lot has gone wrong, but that doesn’t mean a short stint out of the spotlight can’t correct the issues. In fact, the underlying numbers support a return to production:
BABIP – .234
He’s not hitting the ball hard (23.1% Hard%), but he never has (24.1% for his career). The key here is that he’s using the entire field (40.0% Oppo%) and hitting the ball on the ground (57.8%). Considering his speed the BABIP should improve, and potentially significantly.
Strikeout Rate – 30.0%
His SwStr% is up, but it’s actually not a significant regression (13.4% compared to a career mark of 12.2%). At the same time he isn’t straying from the strike zone very much (22.3% O-Swing%), and he’s also seeing more fastballs than ever before (61.7%). So why a near 10% regression in his strikeout rate (20.9% for his career)? Like the BABIP, it’s a number that should improve organically.
He’s never going to be a source of power or RBI, but he’s not a .165 hitter either. Even if you didn’t believe in last year’s .296, does a .260ish mark seem like a stretch? With a career 8.8% walk rate that should mean ample opportunities to utilize his speed and steal some bases.
The demotion to Triple-A is disappointing, but there’s a good chance that the issues are corrected quickly and he returns and makes an impact. That means outside of the shallowest of leagues, stashing him on your bench makes a lot of sense due to the shortage of speed.
Source – Fangraphs